Tucker Carlson accuses Lindsey Graham of "working to reward the Chinese" amid coronavirus pandemic

Graham denied the allegation to Sean Hannity, saying he hadn't "talked to anybody on the planet" about such a thing

Published March 20, 2020 2:49PM (EDT)

Lindsey Graham (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Lindsey Graham (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended himself against accusations that he was trying to add provisions to coronavirus relief legislation to help wealthy Chinese businessmen during a Thursday night appearance on Fox News.

Fox News host Sean Hannity confronted Graham about a Politico article, which reported that Graham had supported giving more green cards to wealthy foreign investors — most of them from China — through the upcoming legislation. Hannity asked Graham if he was "using the coronavirus recovery bills specifically to dramatically expand what is known as an EB-5 green card that would allow wealthy Chinese [to more easily obtain a green card] if they lend money or purchase or invest in the U.S."

Graham adamantly denied the accusation.

"Absolutely not. I haven't talked to anybody on the planet, much less the Trump administration, about putting EB-5 in the coronavirus bill," Graham told Hannity. "This is not the time or the place. The president supports the program. I do, too. We're not going to put a damn thing on this bill that doesn't protect you and your family from the virus and doesn't give you money that you desperately need."

Hannity asked Graham if the Politico story was an "outright falsehood." The South Carolina senator replied that he was not sure if the story came from Politico, but that it was "absolute garbage" regardless. (It came from Politico.) 

Immediately prior to the Hannity segment, Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Graham of "working to reward the Chinese" amid the coronavirus pandemic by "passing out residency documents to rich Chinese, nearly all of whom by definition have ties to our enemies in the Chinese government." 

He asked, "Why is he pushing it at the very moment that the threat we face from China has never been clearer or more imminent?"

Carlson also used his Thursday episode to criticize another Republican senator, Richard Burr of North Carolina. Financial disclosure forms revealed the senator sold off as much as $1.56 million in stock after being briefed about the upcoming pandemic.

"He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn't lose money," Carlson said. "And then he stayed silent. Now, maybe there's an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading."

He added, "There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis and that appears to be what happened."

This is not the first time that Carlson has opposed what he perceives to be financial corruption in the Republican Party. Speaking with Salon last year, Carlson said he felt as though President Donald Trump's tax bill "just sort of assumes that what's good for finance is good for America" and argued that Republican lawmakers need to realize that they "have a new constituency and it's people who are primarily wage earners and primarily — not low income, but lower income."

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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